Dana White Contender Series Week 6 Gambling Breakdown
By: Billy Briz (@Gettin_BILLs_)
Aliaskab Khizriev (-325)
Henrique Shigemoto (+250)
This first fight of the night is so interesting with all the mystery. Khizriev is fighting out of Russia and is undefeated and coming from Fight Night Global at the age of 30. In the film, he looked like beast nasty strikes, ground and pound a lot of finishes on his 12-0 record so far. The only red flag is that he has not fought in two years, which is strange because there’s not a lot of information behind. This is his first time-fighting in the United States and the first time at the weight class as well. For me, I like betting on these Dagestan fighters; they show a lot of poise and all-around dominance more times than not.
Shigemoto, the underdog, is fighting out of Japan and is also making his first appearance in America at the age of 31. He has a record of 13-3-1, with 10 TKO’s but 0-2-1 in decisions. For this matchup, though, it’s the classic striker vs. grappler type of match. Overall I wasn’t too impressed with Shigemoto. He seems very green, and when he’s taken the step of the competition, he’s lost.
It may be a long night for Shigemoto; I think Khizriev has the advantage in almost every category. But you know, in the fight game, something crazy can always happen, and maybe Shigemoto catches a clean shot across and knockout Khrizriev out, but I don’t see it. People may shy away from throwing Khizriev in parlays because of the “ring rust,” but I won’t be. Khizriev is a pretty safe parlay piece for me. When the odds come out for it, “fights to end inside the distance” is a solid bet but might come with a hefty price tag.
Drako Rodriquez (+120)
Lemana Martinez (-150)
Lemana “Mana” Martinez comes in as the favorite, and rightfully so after the amateur scene, he got experience in the LFA and then went to Fury FC and continued the streak of finishes. His last fight was for the Fury FC Bantamweight belt, and his next scheduled fight was a title defense that ultimately got canceled due to COVID. Fighting out the Metro Fight Club, the team has the momentum in its favor too, with Adrian Yanez getting a 1st round knockout/contract, Week 2 of this year’s Contender Series. What stood out on the film for me for him was the volume; he often level changes mixing up his strikes and leg kicks. Often in his fights, he likes to attack the lead leg of his opponent. When it comes to the grappling, he’s more a defensive grappler then one who’s going to pull submissions. He’s not a fish out the water off of his back; He has pretty good takedown defense.
Drako “Great Drakolini” Rodriguez, who is the underdog he’s fighting out of Iowa, coming from the King of the Cage promotion, which is a pretty competitive regional scene. Drako has some boxing experience, and it shows in the tape he’s a very aggressive striker/light on the feet. When it comes to grappling, I wasn’t too impressed that some of the lower-level fighters have taken him down. His only loss, though, was against Tony Gravely (Dana White Contender Series Alum). Also, he showed the capabilities of going into deep water; you can take that for what it’s worth.
At the weigh-ins, Mana came in pretty aggressive and seemed like he had the reach and height advantage as well going in his favor. Drako, however, is a pretty popular dog; money is coming in him; he opened at as a +145 underdog and has already been bet up to +120. One of Drako’s scheduled bouts was against Chito Vera in 2019, but he couldn’t get out of his King of the Cage contract. I think the momentum, however, favors Mana, and that’s why I will take advantage of the line and betting it closer towards fight time.
Khadzhimurat Bestaev (+370)
Phil Hawes (-510)
Phil “Megatron” Hawes, the favorite, has been unsuccessful in the Ultimate Fighter and Contender Series. He was once a highly regarded prospect but has lost some unfortunate spots against some pretty impressive fighters. Most notably was his contender series fight last year; he came out hot, throwing a lot volume and then just didn’t defend anything and ultimately ended up getting the knockout. His fight IQ and the gas tank are a bit concerning. He often looks to take fights to the ground, but his physique build is very muscular, and opponents often get up after the takedowns.
Khadzhimurat Bestaev, the massive underdog, is fighting out of California. This should be an interesting fight as his opponents’ combined record is 42-37, with some notable losses like Alonzo Meinfield, who just fought on last week’s UFC card. Even though he loses the edge in experience, he has a pretty noticeable 6-inch high advantage over Phil Hawes. The odd makers have the line up as Hawes finally gets the breakthrough spot in his career, but I’m a tad bit hesitant to pull the trigger here. The money is pouring in on Hawes as he opened up as a -375 favorite, and that’s already gone up to a -510. I think he’s the better overall fighter, but I’m going to be tempted to bet the dog in this spot because I think the odds are off for a fighter that will have a significant height and reach advantage.
Cameron Church (-145)
Sherrard Blackledge (+115)
Cameron Church is coming in as the favorite currently fighting out of California. However, buy and beware with caution for this 4-0 record, he only had one opponent with a winning record. I was pretty shocked the oddsmakers have him coming in as the favorite. He’s a pressure type of fighter, often walking down his opponents, which leads to him walking into some unwarranted shots to the face. For this match, I would agree where the line movement is happening.
The underdog Blackledge is a local of the Vegas scene who is riding a 4-0 record coming into this Co-Main event. The fight tape was honestly pretty impressive; he keeps developing over time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he looks a lot better in this fight then he’s done previously. He isn’t the most powerful striker; he is more of an accurate technical striker than anything. His fight IQ seems more poised like more of a grinder, rather than a super-powerful hitter. My only concern is for this fight and the Contender Series as a whole; you need to throw volume to win your fight and impress Dana. People are going to get Jose Johnson flashbacks from last week when it comes to grappling, but it’s a serviceable takedown defense. Blackledge likes to mix it up, though, with different faints and strikes, and often his opponents are shocked by his skills and seem to rethink their gameplan.
Church holds knockout power, but he’s still really green in his career, and nothing was impressive. Blackledge gives you a Luis Pena vibe and watching the tape. He seems like he’s already ready for the UFC. Money has been coming in on him already, and I agree with the sharps here. I will be betting Sherrad Blackledge pretty comfortably at this price tag. Don’t count out Cameron Church as he will be looking to the contract and make a statement for one last ride for his dreams/career.
Al Matavo (+370)
Tafon Nchuwki (-510)
The favorite Tafon Nchuwki is fighting out of Maryland and is only 3-0. There’s a lot of mystery here for Tafon; there wasn’t a lot available fight tape. But his most noticeable win is against William Knight (Dana White Contender Series alum), who was 8-0 at that time. Even though it was a controversial stoppage who definitely deserves this shot to the UFC. He seems like a well-rounded fighter with a lot of power behind the hands and solid takedown defense. The usage of the knees in the clinch was also another thing to note about this fighter.
The underdog Al “Sweetness” Matavao is fighting out of Alaska with an 8-2 record and a 4 fight win streak. In the film, he’s shown big power in the early rounds but has a tendency to gas out after unsuccessful finish attempts. He’s not the type to grind you out on the mat he’s going in there head hunting and throwing kicks. My biggest concern for him in this match is his head movement; he often leaves his head exposed when he dips in and out.
The oddsmaker and the public and just heaving favoring Tafon and I can’t blame them here. He opened up as a -400 favorite which might jump all the way up to -750 by the time the fight starts. You can’t blame the oddsmakers though this fight should be taken on the feet and why would somebody bet on a fighter nicknamed Sweetness?